Monday, August 28, 2006

It's News to Me

It’s News to Me is Edward Kosner’s memoir of his career as editor at Newsweek, New York magazine, Esquire and New York Daily News.

I haven’t read the book, not now; I’m actually not familiar with Mr. Kosner or his works and I have yet to start leafing any of the three paperbacks gathering dust on the shelf, my wife’s present for my last birthday. But Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Peter Kann did and his review (of his colleague’s “memoir-episodes loosely stitched together”), which appeared on the Book section of the August 26-27, 2006 issue of Wall Street Journal, while not scathing is certainly unflattering. Why should I be blogging about it anyway?

I feel I should. I’m still being hung up, first twitched in Newsstand, on the Nicholas Lemann’s smug, if romanticist, wistfulness. While recommending realistic strategy (move to the Internet) to protect the endangered tribe (of “traditional” journalists) in the face of certain real challenges from some paradigmatic medium now called blogging, Lemann, the Dean of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, took the bully pulpit in the August 7 and 14, 2006 issue of New Yorker:
The quality of Internet journalism is bound to improve over time, especially if more of the virtues of traditional journalism migrate to the Internet. But, although the medium has great capabilities, especially the way it opens out and speeds up the discourse, it is not quite as different from what has gone before as its advocates are saying. (Underscoring mine)
Lemann’s lecture amounts to self-righteousness if vetted over against these journalistic vices observed by Kann:
Meanwhile, other problems go unaddressed (by Kosner). What of the mixing of news and entertainment into an unsavory content stew, the kind of fare that demeans real journalism? It is a trend that Mr. Kosner pushed along and exploited in at least his later magazine-editor incarnations. What of the mix of news and opinion, a recipe perfected at the news magazines by Kosner and other heirs of Henry Luce? What of pack journalism and the virus of political correctness, rampant across the media?
Kann goes on to question Kosner’s seeming forthrightness: he “fears that ‘fallibility and folly’ are a ‘deep in the bones of journalism’ and worries about the drift to “religious considerations and free-market theology.’”

The present-day indictment of American journalists by Peter Kann is not only a reminder of the yellow journalism practiced by America’s pioneering news sensationalists like William Hearst, and Joseph Pulitzer who endowed the Pulitzer Prize (today regarded as America’s highest honor in print journalism), it also parallels the castigation by Dante Ang of their Filipino counterparts:
They use their pens not to build, but to destroy – AC-DC (attack and collect, defend and collect), you call them. If there are terrorists in robes, there are also terrorists in the media. Both are scums of the earth. Both contribute in no small measure to the continuing instability and the worsening poverty in our country today.
Dante Ang, a laundrywoman’s son who obtained a degree in Journalism at age 59 is now the new owner of Manila Times, the crusading daily of the pre-martial law days that has yet to reclaim its stature. Mr. Ang is a political spinmeister known to have been in the paysheet of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the “Hello Garci” fame; he founded The Manila Times School of Journalism four years ago and the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Awards for Excellence.

Peter Kann, the award-winning foreign correspondent who rose from the ranks, is now the autocratic Chairman of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the zealously rightwing Wall Street Journal (at least that’s how the editorial page of WSJ defines itself). Kann once incensed employees by seeking to cut benefits while augmenting his own and that of his wife, who is a senior vice president.

That’s News to Me.

But, says Slate: “It’s the sort of story that the Wall Street Journal would splash on its front page. But it wont, because this one is taking place at Dow Jones, which owns the Journal.”

Now this. On August 25, 2006, Nepomuceno A. Malaluan, economist, lawyer and trustee for Action for Economic Reforms reported on The Crisis of Income and Employment in the Philippines partly in reaction to the optimism of President Arrroyo’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) of 2005 and 2006. In 2005, Arroyo’s message: the Philippine economy is on the verge of take off; this year she claims she now has the funds to meet the government’s expenditure needs.

Malaluan’s analysis provides a different scenario: “The domestic problem in income and employment is of crisis proportions. Recognizing it is a crucial first step in addressing this crisis, similar to our experience with the fiscal crisis. The next step is to identify its root causes, and address them head on with emergency measures that are doable and can provide immediate and dramatic.”

Why is the banner about Charter change and not this crisis?

To begin with, the Malaluan study also finds that “as much as 52.5% of total market capitalization is controlled by the country’s top 10 families” whose lackadaisical competitiveness is at the heart of the crisis. Isn’t the same handful of families also in control of the media ownership in the Philippines today?

Now we know why the trapos (traditional politicians) as well as the Constitution get the beatings all the time. They don’t own newspapers and televisions.


Blogger manuelbuencamino said...

Lapdogs by Eric Boehlert is another perspective on mainstream media

August 29, 2006 5:05 AM  

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